Over the last few years, government legislation has made being a landlord much more difficult than it once was. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for example, landlords need to be registered while in England and Wales landlords of properties rented to households of five or more must be licensed.
Add to this the additional licences required by some local authorities, and the over 400 rules and regulations you are required to follow to let your property (or face fines of up to £30,000), and it all gets very complicated.
Using a letting agent
Unless you are convinced you can keep abreast of those 400 rules and regulations and are happy to make yourself available to your tenants 24/7 (which some landlords are because they enjoy building relationships with the people who rent from them), you might want to consider retaining the services of a letting agent.
If you use a letting agent, this doesn’t mean you can be ignorant of the law, as you could still be liable for civil penalties and prosecution if your letting agent gets something wrong. It’s important, therefore, to choose a reputable company. When you look for an agency, make sure they:
– Are members of industry bodies such as the National Approved Letting Scheme, Association of Residential Letting Agents, or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
– Have easy to understand terms and conditions that clearly explain your responsibilities as a landlord and their responsibilities as an agent, plus the charges for these.
– Use technology to support tenancy management, e.g. property inventory software from companies such as inventorybase.co.uk.
– Offer a client money protection scheme.
Finding a letting agent using these criteria should give you a level of assurance that your property is being let legally and in line with all relevant rules and regulations, reducing any risk to you.
The benefits of not using a letting agent
While there are lots of benefits for using a letting agent, it won’t be for everyone. When you use a letting agent, you give up a degree of control over your property, deciding how much to pay for maintenance for example, something not every landlord is comfortable with. There’s also a cost, though it should be remembered this is currently a taxable expense.